The Smith's Journal - July 2004

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Mundo Pequeno perform at Stephen Daldrey's Garden Party

Rehearse with Mundo Pequeno at The Strawbale Studio.
Perform with Mundo Pequeno and Salsa Natyam dancers at Stephen Daldrey's Garden Party, which turned out to be a splendid event held in the fabulous Alice In Wonderland-esque gardens at Bedwell Lodge, complete with lots of stalls, tombola, raffle, Tug Of War, crockery smashing and pillow fighting! Not bad for our second gig: we made the sun shine, but rain stopped play later.

[ Mundo Pequeno + Salsa Natyam @ Garden Party | Mundo Pequeno (left view) @ Garden Party | Mundo Pequeno (front view) @ Garden Party | Mundo Pequeno (right view) @ Garden Party | Mundo Pequeno (side view) @ Garden Party ]

More pictures were taken at the following week's gig.


Tibetan Bowls and The Naked Truth perform at Rhythms Of The World

[Tibetan Bowls in St. Mary's Church] Off to Hitchin for the first day of the Rhythms Of The World festival. We opened the festival playing Tibetan Singing Bowls in St. Mary's Church, a seven-strong posse of spin bowlers dressed celestially in white, processing around the church to create some harmonious vibes for the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, The Venerable Samitha, who welcomed in the festival by chanting for peace.

Later that afternoon, The Naked Truth gave their debut performance on The Willow Stage, an idyllic spot in the churchyard beside the river underneath a weeping willow tree. Unfortunately the tiny stage could not accomodate all three of us, so I set up my table of bowls beside it. Even more unfortunately, the small PA was not sufficient for the vast audience of hundreds of people sat on the grass, and technical problems (i.e., being given no chance for a line check) meant that my bowls and flute were inaudible. (I have now learned my lesson to always bring more cables than are necessary, and preferably your own PA and engineer.) The crowd didn't leave though, so we must have been doing something right; all the feedback has been good and we look forward to the next event at Cuffley.

Fabrizia dancing at Rhythms Of The World

Fabrizia also performed her entrancing Bharatanatyam classical Indian dance on the Main Stage in the Market Place.

[ Fabrizia dancing at Rhythms of The World festival in Hitchin | Fabrizia dancing Bharatanatyam @ RoTW | Fabrizia dancing Bharatanatyam @ RoTW | Closeup of Fabrizia dancing Bharatanatyam @ RoTW | Fabrizia in meditative stance @ RoTW | Fabrizia with musicians @ RoTW | Fabrizia bowing with her musicians and dance students @ RoTW ]

And here are photos from another performance the following year.

[ Fabrizia dancing Bharatanatyam @ RoTW | Fabrizia dancing Bharatanatyam @ RoTW | Fabrizia dancing Bharatanatyam @ RoTW | Fabrizia with musicians @ RoTW | Fabrizia dancing Bharatanatyam @ RoTW | Fabrizia dancing Bharatanatyam @ RoTW ]

Meanwhile, in deepest Chelsea, a safari was taking place. Do take care though, it's a jungle out there... ;-)


Tibetan Bowls and Mundo Pequeno perform at Rhythms Of The World

The second day of Rhythms Of The World festival in Hitchin, Britain's largest free world music festival. I took part in two more performances: another round of Bowling in the church, and then played congas with Latin band Mundo Pequeno ('small world') to a large 1000+ crowd in the Marketplace. Some fine 'Salsa Natyam' dancing from Fabrizia and Rob opened the set, alongside Colombian political exile Missael on bongos & vocals, Paul Wheeler (director of the classic TV series Have I Got News For You) on drums, guitar & vocals, Hilary Robertson (ex-Paul Wella) on sax & flute, Ian and Terry Veisey on trumpets, Rob Norris on piano & vocals, Phil Beavis on bass, Ian Gregory on claves & guiro, and Patrick on shakers & tambourine. The gig was well-received by the crowd, and finished with a special guest appearance on vocals by none other than Katrina from Katrina & The Waves (!) singing her classic Eighties anthem "Walking On Sunshine", bringing wide smiles to the audience and setting the stage on fire :-)

[ Mundo Pequeno with Salsa Natyam smile @ RoTW | Mundo Pequeno with Salsa Natyam in Krishna stance @ RoTW | Mundo Pequeno with Salsa Natyam umbrella @ RoTW | Ruth and Bizia dancing in the crowd @ RoTW | Ruth and Bizia dancing in the Marketplace @ RoTW ]

[ Mundo Pequeno singing 'Li Tournee' @ RoTW | Mundo Pequeno singing 'Li Tournee' @ RoTW | Mundo Pequeno singing 'Li Tournee' @ RoTW | Mundo Pequeno singing 'Li Tournee' close up @ RoTW | Mundo Pequeno singing 'Li Tournee' far out @ RoTW | Mundo Pequeno + Katrina @ RoTW ]

More pictures are on the Mundo Pequeno website, and from other Mundo Pequeno gigs at Stephen Daldrey's party and Club Coliseum.

Toque Tambor samba parade at Rhythms Of The World

Being so busy with setting up and moving equipment about, not to mention recording and photography, I hardly got chance to see many of the other 140 acts performing during the packed weekend, but enjoyed what I caught of Marsada's music enough to buy their CD, solely on the strength of their Hawaii-Five-O tom-tom rolls ;-) I also caught some aerial shots of samba group Toque Tambor:

[ Toque Tambor samba parade at Rhythms Of The World festival in Hitchin | Toque Tambor samba parade in Hitchin marketplace | Toque Tambor samba parade at Rhythms Of The World festival | Toque Tambor samba parade in Hitchin High Street | Ruth, Tony and friends in Toque Tambor ]


To Nottingham

Amid a fortnight of well-earned holiday spent recovering after Rhythms, I ventured up to Nottingham to visit Mama. My visits invariably include using her computer to scan all of my recent photos (I still don't yet own a scanner), which will shortly be sprucing up this journal, and of course making use of her fast Broadband connection to download the latest DeMuDi 1.2.0 release.


Chatsworth House

Visited Chatsworth House in Derbyshire with Mama, where we walked all afternoon around the enchanting gardens, which are a true marvel. My favourite was the Rock Garden, with huge boulders piled up to make landscapes that Fred Flintstone would be proud of. Then we ventured up the steep hill into Stand Wood to see The Hunting Tower and the system of lakes which supply water to the wonderful Cascade and Emperor Fountain in the park below, rather like the splendid waterfall and fountain at Linderhof (nice front yard!). Looking forward to my photos...


Yorkshire Dales Follies Tour

The fireplace downstairs inside Marmion Tower ] The cell-like downstairs room in Marmion Tower | [ Marmion Tower near Ripon |My travels continued further northwards to Leeds to see Mark, from where we headed for the hills of North Yorkshire, directed by the excellent book "Follies" {A Guide to Rogue Architecture}. We were truly amazed by the rich heritage of crazy buildings scattered throughout this region. First stop was Marmion Tower in West Tanfield northwest of Ripon, just beside the River Ure. This gatehouse dating from 1350 had an eerie cell-like downstairs room, and a dizzying spiral staircase leading to the roofless first floor. Mark had brought his Super8 camera to gather material for his new film project; his fascinating approach was to use it as a stills camera, capturing (18 frames x 200 seconds) = 3600 pictures on one film! So there he was clicking shots by the hundred, playing with bouncing images (myself included) around in the frame and doing inverse-time-lapse tricks, while I tentatively snapped away with my Canon EOS600 SLR. I look forward to seeing the end result - surely the most diverse film ever made!

[ Stone circle central shrine ]Next we went a few miles west to the Druids' Temple atop Ilton Moor that I'd discovered last year. This bizarre place was built as a mock-Stonehenge, complete with dolmens, huge standing stones and even a large sacrificial stone table with seats in front of a dark, foreboding grotto cave cut into the hillside. Cursing that we had neglected to bring ceremonial robes, swords, daggers and fake blood, and that no fair virgins or goats were to be found for sacrifice, we walked up through the woods to see the fine view of Leighton Reservoir afforded at the end of the tree-lined avenue.

[ Jervaulx Abbey northwest of Ripon in Yorkshire ] A nice octagonal folly near Temple Farm in YorkshireEn route to Aysgarth, we found Jervaulx Abbey lying in ruins by the roadside, and couldn't resist getting out to capture its poignant beauty on film. Then onwards, over a cute suspension bridge with crennelated towers like castles, to find a lovely little folly at Temple Farm between Swinithwaite and Aysgarth.

[You might be interested to see photos of another ruined castle I took on an earlier trip to Yorkshire.]

[ A dead straight dry stone wall photographed on an earlier trip ]Eager for higher heights, we skipped The Rocket Ship and other curious follies at Sorrell Sykes Park near Aysgarth Falls and headed straight up Buttertubs Pass to Swaledale, a stunning sight in the sunshine, before veering left around Rogan's Seat. We stopped on Stonesdale Moor to walk up a curious gully gouged out of the mountainside by a river, where a ruined old stone building stood. Hmmm, planning permission... a nice place for a studio! Walking to the top of the moorland, we encountered in the middle of absolutely nowhere a roadsign marking the Pennine Way. Venturing back along Arkengarthdale, we imagined that this place in winter would be pretty bleak, there even being high poles to mark the edges of the road in snowdrifts, or for ski slalom perhaps.

Eventually folly-fatigue sent us homeward back to Leeds, where Mark showed me some of his footage of the Pagodas at Orford Ness, an old MOD atomic weapons testing site in Suffolk, which will form part of his epic film about Hiroshima.

[ The gateway to Gordale invites... |The following day I went out alone up to Malham, eager to climb up Gordale Scar where I'd been last summer and doubly-exposed my photos (DOH!), but alas, overcast skies prevented my image gathering mission. I shall be back, again...

Just don't go there alone, OK?! ] In the ruins of Spofforth Castle | Inside Spofforth Castle near Harrogate | [ The tower door is firmly locked... |After languishing on the moors and taking my flute for a walk until rain fell in the evening, I headed back to Nottingham, via Barden Tower and Swinsty Reservoir, checking out Spofforth Castle as dusk fell. While wandering through the ruins, I distinctly heard a girl singing, yet could find nobody anywhere on the site... One dark tunnel into the rock face had a stone staircase leading upwards into a bricked up archway; I wandered in wanting to touch the bricks, but a very worrying feeling prevented me from proceeding... and I left the place in a hurry. Oh dear. Oh dear, no... (I do hope she doesn't appear in any of my photos currently awaiting development!) [Update: Luckily not.] Curiously this web page actually features Spofforth Castle, and not Marmion Tower as they call it, a strange coincidence between the first and last folly I visited on my tour.

So all in all, not a bad two days: 4 follies, 3 castles, an abbey, various other ruins, countless moorlands, and a couple of reservoirs.


The Naked Truth perform at the Festival of Song, Drum and Dance

The Naked Truth performed at the very first Festival of Song, Drum & Dance in the magical woodlands at Cuffley Camp, near Potters Bar. This wonderful event was so undersubscribed, but all those who attended will attest to its significance. The atmosphere was great, helped no end by the convivial Pagan security, who gave such a warm welcome. The place is a dream - a vast ancient woodland which goes on for miles, populated by villages of scout tents all of which were empty. Various workshops went on throughout the weekend, including singing, drumming, past-life regression, and Fabrizia teaching Bharata Natyam Indian classical dance.

[ Bizia's dance class at Cuffley Camp | [ Bizia's dance class at Cuffley Camp | Bizia's dance class at Cuffley Camp | Bizia's dance class at Cuffley Camp ]

We couldn't have asked for a better setting to perform in: a natural amphitheatre in a sun-drenched clearing under a huge oak tree. After some trampolining to limber up, we set up equipment, thankful to have no PA system to worry about, just our own acoustic instruments, naked and truthful. The friendly audience gathered and made us feel right at home, aside from a few hilarious hecklers (Ruth's young sons ;-), and gave us their rapt attention for a blissful hour.

[ Ruth and Malc with table of bowls at FSDD | Cuffley Camp Amphitheatre (side view) | Cuffley Camp Amphitheatre (top view) | Ruth strummin' at FSDD | The Naked Truth singing 'We Can Have Dreams' at FSDD ]

Afterwards, we went back to the campsite to chill out and sing by the fire, then gathered around a large fire in the amphitheatre, where Grizzly and friends treated us to some mesmerising Native American Indian flute playing and shamanic drumming. One of his instruments truly amazed me, a 'drone flute' consisting of two flutes joined together, one with fingerholes to play the tune, and the other without to provide a drone.


Native American Flute workshop at the Festival of Song, Drum and Dance

Since I had to work today, I'd gone back home from the festival the previous night, but luckily the Angels were smiling on me and left me no work to do. So I was free to attend the Native American Flute workshop after all. (This stuff is designed to happen, by the way.)

On arrival, I warmed up on the assault course with the boys, before the workshop started. [ Grizzly playing Native American Indian flute at Cuffley Camp ]Grizzly began by showing us the various types of flutes, demonstrating that the smaller ones are much easier to play than the larger ones, and that, in fact anyone can play them given a few basic tips. He then *gave* everyone a flute each that he had made out of plastic tubing from B&Q, to keep, for free! We were taken aback and filled with joy at our new discoveries, so he sent us all forth into the forest for ten minutes to practise on our own amidst the trees. Oh to have had a surround sound microphone to record that wondrous moment as we wandered off in different directions, with ten identically tuned flutes pouring out cascading melodies. This realisation that here was a flute I could get a good tone from without the usual battle I have with my others was a revelation, especially so for other friends who never thought they could play at all. Four of us now have one, so we shall more than likely form a quartet...

Still no work, so I wandered again alone through the forest, and sat on a gnarled tree to play my flute, for some time. Just before I left, Carol, the organiser of the festival, interviewed me for a promotional video for next year's event. I gladly accepted the chance to perform here again, possibly also with drumming and Tibetan Bowls. More people really should experience this place, although it was perhaps quite special to have so few people here this first time, so that everyone was well catered for and had so much personal space, in direct contrast to most music festivals. And having an event at a dedicated site like this with proper buildings and kitchen and toilet facilities is the way to go. It is nice to feel totally free in the company of complete strangers who are immediately open and friendly, such a happy atmosphere. I thought nothing of leaving thousands of pounds worth of gear lying about in the woods, as if it had divine protection; I guess that's Pagan security for you :-)

When things go this right, you know it is for real.


Deep and spiritual

Today I (re)discovered that Djwhal Khul, a pivotal influence on my way of life and diet, was known as 'The Tibetan' - maybe this explains my sudden interest in sacred heavy metal ;-)

Meeting Grizzly at the Festival of Song, Drum & Dance has opened a few doors, flicked some switches in me, rather like the Dancing Master laying his hands on the Master of Kung Fu. Things are starting to make sense - simple things which I already knew but had either forgotten to take note of or was just too busy to notice. Wandering in the woods with my new flute reminded me that there are reasons why certain things are important at certain times. As if a torch has been shone in a dark room, teachings that previously seemed unimportant take on new significances.

"What you find
all comes from senses nestling within your own mind -
you just left them behind." -- © Ruth Ford

The spiritual path that I started on a long time ago has swept round in another spiral, and now I can look back at where I've come from with a dizzy head. I often forget that I'm even on this path, but a view this clear just puts things right back in perspective, sets out the boundaries again. I feel an immense need to refocus my efforts, build new and more powerful spiritual machinery ready to face to the future, rejuvenate myself ready for the challenges of the next level, and the Universe is more than happy to provide creative energy in abundance. There is so much to learn. Not too much time to plan and deliberate though - the journey has already begun again...

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Licence © The right to copy is left with the user copyleft Malcolm Smith 2004-03-03 - last updated 2007-09-28 - links verified 2006-02-12